Crack-Up (1936)

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Peter Lorre and Brian Donlevy, top secret plans and espionage!
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US / 71 minutes / bw / TCF Dir: Malcolm St. Clair Scr: Charles Kenyon, Sam Mintz Story: John Goodrich Cine: Barney McGill Cast: Peter Lorre, Brian Donlevy, Helen Wood, Ralph Morgan, Thomas Beck, Kay Linaker, Lester Matthews, Earle Foxe, J. Carroll Naish (i.e., J. Carrol Naish), Gloria Roy, Oscar Apfel, Paul Stanton, Howard Hickman, Robert Homans, Sam Hayes.

An odd little pre-war espionage movie whose downbeat ending and occasional callousness toward human life—plus the presence of Lorre—give it something of a noirish credential.

The Fleming–Grant aircraft factory, owned by mainspring John P. Fleming (Morgan) and his partner Sidney Grant (Matthews), has completed construction of a new plane, the Wild Goose, which has the extraordinary ability to transport a consignment of passengers across the Atlantic. (This was, you’ll remember, 1936.) Fleming plans to take it on its maiden flight from the US East Coast to Berlin, with pilot Ace Martin (Donlevy) and mechanic Joe Randall (Beck). The naming ceremony, emceed by broadcaster Sam Hayes (himself) and with Fleming’s wife, Lois (Linaker), doing the stuff with the bottle of bubbly, is attended also by Continue reading

o/t: my story “The Law of Conservation of Data” goes live at Lightspeed

And you can read it online for free!

Here’s the mag’s cover, illustrating the story:

This stunning piece of artwork is by Reiko Murakami — many thanks to her!

Here’s the link so you can you feast your eyes upon the issue as a whole: voila. If you’re so awestruck by what you see that there’s nothing for it to preserve your sanity except subscribe, try clicking here.

And a happy July 4th to all people of good will.

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NB: “The Law of Conservation of Data” does have cussing and rudery: be warned.

 

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o/t: leisure reading during June

Some fun stuff this month, including the two nonfictions and several of the lighter reads. I’m running out of Jean-Patrick Manchette novels to read, which is a bit of a b . . . er, a bit of a bind.

As usual, the links are to my often hasty Goodreads notes.

Chambre Bleue, La (2014)

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An illicit affair leads to murder!
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vt The Blue Room
France / 76 minutes / color / Alfama, Arte France Cinéma, Centre National du Cinéma et de L’Image Animée, Canal+, Ciné+, Cofinova 10, La Région des Pays-de-la-Loire, Le CNC Dir: Mathieu Amalric Pr: Paulo Branco Scr: Stéphanie Cléau, Mathieu Amalric Story: La Chambre Bleue (1964; vt The Blue Room) by Georges Simenon Cine: Christophe Beaucarne Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Léa Drucker, Stéphanie Cléau, Laurent Poitrenaux, Serge Bozon, Blutch, Mona Jaffart, Véronique Alain, Paul Kramer, Alain Fraitag, Christelle Pichon, Olivier Mauvezin, Joseph Ancel, Marie-Agnès Renard.

In the small French town of St. Justin, farm-machinery merchant Julien Gahyde (Amalric) has been having an affair for the past eleven months with pharmacist’s assistant Esther Despierre (Cléau); the pair might have been childhood sweethearts had Julien’s family not moved out of the area. In the interval before his return, both of them got married, Julien to Delphine (Drucker), now mother of his child Suzanne (Jaffart), and Esther to the rich but sickly Nicolas Despierre (Mauvezin). The illicit couple meet clandestinely on occasional afternoons in the Blue Room (so-named because of the color its walls are painted) of the Hôtel de la Gare.

Esther (Stéphanie Cléau).

Julien (Mathieu Amalric).

One day, between bouts, Julien sees from the Blue Room’s window Esther’s husband Nicolas, apparently making his way intently toward the hotel. This sparks both of the lovers into a rethink of Continue reading

Traitors, The (1962)

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An Anglo–American team uncovers a nest of spies!
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UK / 66 minutes / bw / Ello, Rank Dir: Robert Tronson Pr & Scr: Jim O’Connolly Story: J. Levy, J.P. O’Connolly Cine: Michael Reed, James Bawdon Cast: Patrick Allen, Jacqueline Ellis, James Maxwell, Zena Walker, Ewan Roberts, Harold Goodwin, John Bown, Jeffrey Segal, Anne Padwick, Jack May, Mark Singleton, Sean Lynch, A.J. Brown, Victor Platt, Reed De Rouen, Anton Rodgers, Michael Corcoran, Sheldon Lawrence, Robert Raglan, Fanny Carby, Henry De Bray, Arthur Barclay, Frank Wilson Taylor, Mike Martin.

NATO Security is concerned because, in the wreckage of an air crash in Munich, they’ve discovered a roll of microfilm related to a top-secret nuclear-rocket project based in Woking, England. General Waring (uncredited) of NATO calls in the British Security Service in the shape of its incompetent boss, Colonel Burlinson (Roberts), and his assistant, John Lane (Allen). They agree that Lane should take over the case and they Continue reading

o/t: Movie Scientist Blogathon 2017

And, once more, thanks to Christina Wehner and Ruth at Silver Screenings, the Movie Scientist Blogathon returns. This year, as you’ll have deduced from the image above (upon which please click for more info), the ‘thon runs September 8-10.

Noirish is planning to contribute a piece on the, er, classic Lon Chaney Jr-starring noirly sf horror piece Indestructible Man (1956), which is very, very scary, so best staple your socks on.

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Millie (1931)

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Helen Twelvetrees in a melodrama for the ages!
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US / 85 minutes / bw / RKO Dir: John Francis Dillon Pr: Chas. R. Rogers Scr: Chas. Kenyon, Ralph Murphy (i.e., Ralph Morgan) Story: Millie (1930) by Donald Henderson Clarke Cine: Ernest Haller Cast: Helen Twelvetrees, Lilyan Tashman, Robert Ames, James Hall, John Halliday, Joan Blondell, Anita Louise, Edmund Breese, Frank McHugh, Charlotte Walker, Franklin Parker, Charles Delaney, Harry Stubbs, Louise Beavers, Harvey Clark, Aggie Herring, Geneva Mitchell, Hooper Atchley, Lillian Harmer.

Willows University student Jack Maitland (Hall) captures the heart of poor but lovely redhead Millicent “Millie” Blake (Twelvetrees) and persuades her to elope with him. Three years later they’re installed in a luxury New York apartment with Jack’s mother (Walker) and the couple’s infant daughter Connie (uncredited). In theory Millie should be content that she has all the good things in life, but in reality Jack is neglecting her—being frequently away “on business”—and she’s much of the time forced to relinquish her child to the cares of a governess (Harmer). So she’s delighted when one day, out of the blue, she gets a phone call from her childhood friend Angie Wickerstaff (Blondell).

Angie (Joan Blondell) and Helen (Lilyan Tashman) are cutting corners.

Angie has come to NYC to live with her pal Helen Reilly (Tashman), and suggests the three of them meet up at a local café; what she doesn’t mention on the phone is that Continue reading

Night of Evil (1962)

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A moron’s act of violence initiates a years-long cycle of tragedy!
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US / 83 minutes / bw / Galbreath, Astor, Sutton Dir & Pr: Richard Galbreath Scr: Louis Perino Story: Lou Perry (i.e., Louis Perino) Cine: David Holmes Cast: Lisa Gaye, William Campbell, Lynn Bernay (i.e., Lynette Bernay), Burtt Harris, Sammy Mannis, Earl Wilson, Remo Pisani, George Diestel, Don De Leo, Joe Garri, Patricia Dahling, Eric Anthony Pregent, Gary Gage, Carlton Kadell, Maurice Copeland, Barbara Bricker, David Dunstone.

A Z-movie that punches very far above its weight in most respects, this somehow transcends its hackneyed trope of a young woman spiralling inexorably downward into degradation.

Its introduction doesn’t inspire much confidence that this might be the case, consisting as it does of the cliché of a po-faced narrator (Wilson) telling us earnestly that the movie’s contents are, despite the promises of sensationalism that lured us into the cinema, both serious and high-minded:

The picture you are about to witness is based on newspaper and court records. It is a true story. To protect the innocent, some of the names, places and incidents have been changed.

It all began in the fall of 1957 . . .

Dixie Ann Dikes (Gaye), approaching 17 and living with foster parents Cora and Edgar Watkins (both uncredited), has a nice young boyfriend in Kent Fitzroy (uncredited).

Lisa Gaye as Dixie.

However, football jock Johnny (Harris) believes that, as the star of their high school team, he’s entitled to first dibs on the pretty girls. Continue reading

o/t: reading during May

Just seven books this month, but a couple of them were pretty long and all are nonfiction. As usual, the links go to my notes on Goodreads.

 

Trent’s Last Case (1952)

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Orson Welles, Margaret Lockwood and Kenneth Williams amid a glittering cast!
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UK / 86 minutes / bw / Imperadio, Republic Dir & Pr: Herbert Wilcox Scr: Pamela Bower Story: Trent’s Last Case (1913) by E.C. Bentley Cine: Max Greene Cast: Michael Wilding, Margaret Lockwood, Orson Welles, John McCallum, Miles Malleson, Hugh McDermott, Jack McNaughton, Sam Kydd, Kenneth Williams, Henry Edwards, Ben Williams, PLUS

  • Eileen Joyce
  • Anthony Collins
  • and members of the London Symphony Orchestra

This is the third of the four (to date) screen adaptations of Bentley’s supposedly subversive mystery novel. The other three have been:

  • Trent’s Last Case (1920) dir Richard Garrick, with Gregory Scott, Pauline Peters, Clive Brook and George Foley (silent)
  • Trent’s Last Case (1929) dir Howard Hawks, with Raymond Griffith, Marceline Day, Lawrence Gray and Donald Crisp (silent)
  • Trent’s Last Case (1964 TVM) dir Peter Duguid, with Michael Gwynn, Kenneth Fortescue and Peter Williams

. . . and I’m sure my true love would spifflicate me if I didn’t mention the unrelated (beyond the title)

  • Trenchard’s Last Case (1989 TV) dir Mike Barnes, an episode of the Bergerac TV series (1981–91) starring apparently droolworthy screen idol (there’s no accounting for taste) John Nettles

Philip Trent (Wilding) is a monied artist and amateur sleuth. In the past, the editor (uncredited) of the Daily Record has commissioned from him dispatches written while he’s been investigating his most sensational murder cases, and what could be more sensational than the murder of ruthless international financier Sigsbee Manderson (Welles) in the grounds of his stately Hampshire pied à terre, White Gables?

Or was it murder? So many of the circumstantial details point to suicide.

The dead man’s widow Margaret (Margaret Lockwood) gives evidence to the coroner’s court . . .

. . . where Philip sketches John . . .

. . . and gardener Horace Evans (Kenneth Williams) also gives evidence.

Philip reaches White Gables the day after Manderson’s body has been discovered by the subgardener, Horace Evans (an almost unrecognizably young Williams), and, with the help of the widowed Mrs. Manderson’s uncle, Burton Cupples (Malleson), talks his way into the house, where he discovers his old pal and rival, Inspector Murch (Kydd), heading the Continue reading